Crime & Courts

Man denied parole for 1987 murder near Augusta

Everett Capps’ 18-year-old son LeLand was murdered in Butler County in 1987. Billy Mathis, one of three men convicted in the case, has been denied parole. The three kidnapped, beat and terrorized LeLand Capps for hours before shooting him in the head and throwing his body into the Walnut River. His body was found days later after Mathis confessed and led law enforcement to the site.
Everett Capps’ 18-year-old son LeLand was murdered in Butler County in 1987. Billy Mathis, one of three men convicted in the case, has been denied parole. The three kidnapped, beat and terrorized LeLand Capps for hours before shooting him in the head and throwing his body into the Walnut River. His body was found days later after Mathis confessed and led law enforcement to the site. File photo

A Kansas inmate convicted of killing an 18-year-old Butler County man in 1987 has been denied parole for the fourth time.

Billy Mathis, 46, is one of three men serving life in prison in connection with the shooting death of LeLand Capps on Jan. 2, 1987. Capps was picked up by Mathis, William Horton and John Beebe after Capps’ car broke down in downtown Augusta on New Year’s Day of that year. The trio initially agreed to drive Capps to Andover in exchange for gas money but instead detoured into a deserted area of the county and robbed, beat and terrorized the teen for sport.

They decided to kill Capps to protect their identities and drove him to a riverbank about four miles southwest of Augusta. There, Mathis shot the teen in the back of the head.

The men took Capps’ wallet, his shoes and $4 in change from his pockets. They weighted Capps’ body with a 40-pound concrete landscaping block and rolled him into the Walnut River to conceal the crime.

Mathis, then 18, confessed and led law enforcement officials to the body a few days later. He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping and received two life sentences.

Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Jeremy Barclay said the Prisoner Review Board refused Mathis’ bid for parole because of the seriousness and violent nature of the crime and because of objections from the community. His parole hearing was Dec. 19.

Mathis will be eligible for parole again in October 2016, Barclay said. He also was denied release in December 2001, December 2011 and June 2013.

In a November letter to The Eagle, Mathis wrote that he felt remorse over Capps’ killing and deserves “another chance at life” because he is “no longer that kid.”

Everett Capps, who shared his memories of his son’s killing for a recent Eagle article, says he is relieved Mathis will remain in prison for now.

He received a letter at his Augusta home on Jan. 6 notifying him of the parole board’s decision.

“Mathis says he deserves a second chance. He’s got one. He’s still alive,” Capps, 70, said by phone Saturday.

“He needs to make a success of his life right there in prison. He doesn’t deserve to get out of prison. He’s got his second chance. LeLand didn’t.”

The other two men imprisoned in connection with LeLand Capps’ death also will be up for parole next year.

Department of Corrections records show Horton’s earliest possible release date is April 1, 2016. Beebe’s also is listed as April 1.

Both men are 51.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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